They stepped off the “No. 11” train at the Valdese Depot to set foot on the land that they would build and what would become the town of Valdese.

In honor of Valdese celebrating 125 years since their founding in 1893, the Valdese Public Arts Commission and the Town of Valdese have come together to create a commemorative art piece that will be located across from Valdese Town Hall on Massel Avenue, according to a press release from the Town of Valdese Community Affairs and Tourism Department

The art piece will depict the arrival of the original Waldensian settlers, who made the trek to Valdese from the Cottian Alps in Italy on May of 1893, the release said.

The installation will be created by the artists of Oak Hill Iron and Wood of Morganton and is designed by local artist Greg Mastin. The design will feature a full scale train and silhouettes of original settlers made out of iron, the release said.

Standing between 12 and 15 feet tall and extending parallel to Massel Avenue for over 30 feet, the installation will honor those who founded Valdese.

The installation will also include 10 settler images and will recognize all 29 original settlers on a bronze plaque which will be created by the Waldensian Heritage Museum, said Morissa Angi, director of community affairs and tourism. The project will be installed during the summer months of 2018 and will make its debut at the Waldensian Festival on Aug. 11.

"For years it has been talked about (to have something) to mark and designate that area as where the arrival took place," Angi said. "The idea was to create an art piece that would be a signature for Valdese."

The cost for the installation and production, which is estimated at $50,000, has been pledged by the Valdese Public Arts Commission, the Town of Valdese and Waldensian Heritage Museum, Angi said.

Although these organizations pledged monies toward the project, The Valdese Public Art Commission is request ing financial support from the public. Contributions made by the public will be used for landscaping, lighting and a boardwalk extension.

Those interested in making a donation can mail or bring check or cash to the Waldensian Heritage Museum or the Valdese Community Affairs Office located at the Old Rock School. No donation is too big or too small and any support you provide will be greatly appreciated. Your tax deductible contributions will add additional features to the installation and will help to make this project even more of an iconic image for the Town of Valdese. Help us celebrate 125 years of our hometown.

Project updates will be available at For more information about the project, call 828-879-2129. Donations can be made by mailing checks to Valdese Tourism Dept. at P.O. Box 655 Valdese NC 28690 . Checks should be written to the Waldensian Heritage Museum with “125 Train Art” in the memo line.

Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at or 828-432-8907. Follow her on Twitter at @MNH_JonelleB.

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